Thursday, 18 May 2017

Bentos for World Book Day

April 23 was World Book Day,and I observed it by creating a series of book-themed bento lunches based on my favourite books and authors. Many people have asked me about the illustrations. It's really very easy and quick to do -- I painted the illustrations on flat tortilla using a fine paintbrush dipped in natural black food dye, and then cut out the shapes using a small sharp blade, and baked the illustrations to set the dye.  The blue, red and green tints are done using food writing pens.

World Book Day Bento #1 is inspired by Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird".
World Book Day Bento #2, inspired by E.B. White's 'Charlotte's Web'. Favourite quote from the book: "You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that."
World Book Day Bento #3, inspired by 'A Raisin In The Sun' by Lorraine Hansbury. There's a little 'potted plant' in the top left compartment because gardening is a leitmotif in the book/play.
World Book Day Bento #4, inspired by 'War of the Worlds' by H.G. Wells. I am a fan of old-school science fiction, in particular, the works of John Wyndham, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. My original intention was to feature Wyndham's triffids, but I forgot what triffids look like and ended up illustrating something that looks like the toothy plant in Little Shop of Horrors, so I scrapped it and did the Martian Tripods from WotW instead.
World Book Day Bento #5, inspired by Iris Murdoch's "The Sea, The Sea." Iris Murdoch is an incredible novelist, but she is also first and foremost a philosopher and ethicist. I love her protagonists because they are flawed, in particular the protagonist in "The Sea, The Sea", only he doesn't know how flawed and mistaken he is, which of course gives the whole story its element of dramatic irony.

World Book Day Bento #6: And finally, we arrive at the original inspiration for World Book Day... Good ol' Bill Shakespeare. Shakespeare is still considered one of the greatest, most popular and most influential dramatists in history for good reason. His themes of heroism, justice, political intrigue, friendship, loyalty, love, betrayal, prejudice, human fallibility and complex family relationships remain relevant to all generations and across cultures. Shakespeare wrote for the masses, and that is why his plays lack pretension. They weren't moralising or instructive plays, and yet we never fail to learn something from each play. Shakespeare's popularity lies in the fact that his plays are bawdy, ribald, witty, accessible and oh-so-human. So here's to old Will S., one of the greatest philosophers, psychologists, social commentators and writers to have ever lived.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

March 2017 in Pictures

2 March: We had a huge team of vollies, many of them first-timers, for Kedai Jalanan, our pop-up street 'store' for the homeless and urban poor, at the Homeless Assistance Centre (Pusat Bantuan Gelandangan) at Medan Tuanku despite the rain and traffic. So good to see so many young people volunteering!

 4 March: Attended Petra and Junior's joint birthday poolside party and things got a little wild.

5 March: Green Living partnered up with the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia for the screening of Racing Extinction. I set up an outreach booth and conducted a quiz for which I had sponsored the prizes in order to encourage attendance and participation. We had a full house.

11 March: Paddleboarding at Putrajaya Lake with the gang on the occasion of Hari's birthday.
11 March: Attended the overrated and underwhelming hot air balloon fiesta at Desa Park City with Nicole. There were just a handful of balloons and huge crowds. I'll give this a miss next year.

11 March: Fireworks at the hot air balloon fiesta.

12 March: Bath and tickwash time for the dogs at the PAWS Animal Welfare Society shelter.

15 March: So this sorta kinda happened and I was featured in The Star in conjunction with International Women's Day. They had a series on women activists and I was one of those interviewed:

16 March: This particular week's creative writing and service project for my teens at the Beacon of Hope -- writing postcards to senior citizens.

17 March: My very handy and light bento for St. Patrick's Day. I call this composition "Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow".

17 March: Fair warning. Spit constitutes a weapon of mass destruction.

19 March: Well hey there, cutie-patootie! Spotted this vintage charmer at the parking lot of my friend's apartment.

19 March: Cos sometimes you just feel like baking individual vegan upside-down pineapple cakes at 4 a.m.

19 March: Two big sillies. Lulu is back at the SPCA for boarding. She is a former office dog.

19 March: Many Thanks to Karen Michaela Tan, Ng Geok Chunn, Alicia Ling Horsley and Cindy Yap for the toys, games and preloved books for the Sabah village school adopted by Ecocentric Transitions.

23 March: Meet my latest adoptee, Chantique. Her rescuers -- good friends of mine -- could not keep her due to allergies and health reasons, so I welcomed Chantique into my home two weeks ago as I have experience caring for differently-abled and medically vulnerable animals. Chantique is settling in nicely and not so feral and skittish anymore. I think she likes having me as a mum.

24 March: Friday lunch at my favourite taco place, ThymeOut Sunway, with one of my fave people, Ellen. I had the El Gandhi vegan burrito and it is so, so good! Not easy to find good southwestern food here but dang this place is the ish!

25 March: Doggie-Doos Washing Day at the KL Pooch Rescue.

25 March: Doing two shelter shifts today. Second shift (after KL Pooch Rescue) at the SPCA, cleaning cages and taking care of the Quarantine kittens and cats.

26 March: Shelter sweetheart Soda says "Hi! Notice anything different about me today?" Two of the volunteers took her out for an event at a pet café and painted her nails as a treat.

26 March: Completed the BRT run at 3 a.m. together with LiLi and my friend Ee Koon's partner Chris. We did the charity wave at 2 a.m. to raise funds for the National Cancer Society of Malaysia. The event was very well organised, with the exception of the emcee, who is a blathering halfwit. Chris was super fast, we thought he was going to end up coming home with a trophy, but alas, he didn't.

27 March: Decided to make futomaki at midnight without ever having rolled a sushi in my life, so obviously everything came out oddly-shaped. I used brown rice and quinoa and it was fine and the ingredients (kyuri, sweetcorn, tomato, cucumber, celery and spicy floss) still held together. Vegetarian cupcake on the top right came from my awesome kindergarten teacher Mrs. Balendran because she loves me!

28 March: Still Life with Kitten. (Model: Harriet, 5 months old)

29 March: Logan says: "Hello, I'm here to sit on your apron and prevent you from getting any housework done!"

31 March: My sister Amber is finally discharged after two long weeks at the vet for an infection that took a long time to heal due to her age. Can you tell we were both very glad to be reunited and going home?